Friday, April 13, 2018

Schiller's Favorites: New Wine Bars in Washington DC, USA

Pictures: Christian Schiller at the New Maxwell Park Wine Bar in Washington DC, USA

Washington DC has a fantastic wine bar scene. See:  Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Washington DC, USA (2017)

During the second half of last year, 5 new wine bars opened in Washington DC: Maxwell Park, Dio, The Dabney Cellar, Primrose, and Little Pearl.

Fritz Hahn (in the Washington Post on January 11, 2018) and Alicia Cypress (in Seven Fifty Daily on March 19, 2018) reviewed the new wine bars.

Alicia Cypress (Seven Fifty Daily - March 19, 2018): A revolution is happening in the nation’s capital that has nothing to do with the government. During the past decade, the city once known for stodgy steakhouses and one-note wine lists has witnessed a flourishing restaurant scene that’s now as vibrant as its revitalized neighborhoods. For some time now, Washington, D.C., has been filling up with Michelin-starred restaurants, innovative cuisine, and wine lists that go beyond big Napa Cabs and traditional Bordeaux and Burgundies. And there’s an almost palpable momentum to the speed with which new wine-focused establishments are popping up around the city.

In the latter half of 2017, five new neighborhood wine bars opened: Maxwell Park, Dio, The Dabney Cellar, Primrose, and Little Pearl. Places like District Winery—from the owners of New York’s Brooklyn Winery—and City Winery, which has locations in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, and Nashville, also recently planted their urban-winemaking flags in D.C. The proprietors of the new wine bars say that they were pleasantly surprised to see so many similar businesses opening all at once, but each pointed to D.C.’s friendly alcohol laws, its growing millennial population, and the presence of an increasing number of importers in the area as reasons to set up shop there.

I visited the new wine bars:

Dio's wine list is funky, with only natural, hands-off wines from all over the world. The wines are not served in proper wine but juice glasses. The food is charcuterie and cheese.

Primrose serves exclusively French natural wines. The food is classical French bistro food. I like the Steak Frites.

Maxwell Park has quickly become a go-to spot for industry professionals. The themed wine menu of about 30 selections changes monthly.

The Dabney Cellar belongs to the Michelin-starred Dabney Restaurant. The wine menu is more classic than ultra-trendy. The food includes a selection of oysters.

Little Pearl, from the team behind the Michelin-starred Pineapple and Pearls and Rose’s Luxury, is coffee shop during the day and wine bar after 5:30pm. The focus is on two dozen, mostly natural wines by the glass and a short, snacky food menu.

Washington DC now also has a cider bar: Anxo

The Dabney Cellar

Fritz Hahn: This gem of a bar, hidden below the Dabney restaurant inside a 19th-century rowhouse’s brick-walled basement, meets all the criteria for a date-night destination. It’s cozy, but not too crowded. Lively, but not so loud you can’t have a conversation.

Dabney chef Jeremiah Langhorne and partner Alex Zink were inspired by trips to Paris and Montreal, where cellar bars act as a waiting area for restaurants or as a place to grab a late-night snack. Upstairs, at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Langhorne works his magic cooking regional ingredients over an open hearth. Downstairs, plates are covered with gorgeous, paper-thin slices of Tennessee ham from Bob Woods’s Hamery; seasonal, regional cheeses; and expertly shucked Chesapeake and Atlantic oysters from small producers. “Fundamentally and philosophically,” Zink says, the Dabney and its wine cellar share a sensibility, but downstairs, “the lights are low and the music’s louder.”




About 25 wines are available by the glass in the basement, and the wine list is reprinted every day. One staple: “wines that pair well with oysters and beautiful cheese,” says Zink, who’s the beverage director for both levels. The menu is more classic than ultra-trendy, with well-chosen wines from the Loire, Italy and, on one recent visit, a blend from Delaplane’s extraordinary, award-winning RdV Vineyards.

Although the Dabney Cellar’s down a slightly treacherous flight of stone stairs, with no sign other than a frosted-glass window, it has become popular since its early-December debut. There are only 30 seats, and the bar opens at 6 p.m. If you show up after 7, there’s probably going to be a wait.

On busy nights, expect to be told to come back for an update in 30 or 45 minutes. “We wanted to keep it more casual, and we don’t know how long people are going to stay,” Zink says. “Some people are grabbing a bite pre-dinner. Some people settle in with a bottle of wine and put together a dinner.”

Once you get a seat, you’ll just want to settle in and stay.

1222 Ninth St. NW
Wednesday - Saturday open

Maxwell Park

Alicia Cypress: Kroll made a name for himself in D.C.’s wine community while working at the Neighborhood Restaurant Group and Proof before opening Maxwell Park last June with his two partners, local somms Niki Lang and Daniel Runnerstrom. Their corner bar in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood is a T-shirt-and-jeans kind of place and has quickly become a go-to spot for local residents and industry professionals.

Kroll’s goal was to open a “pure” wine bar in which more than 80 percent of sales would come strictly from the wine. He’s been able to achieve this by means of a significant by-the-glass list and by limiting the food menu to small plates.




Pictures: At Maxwell Park with Brent Kroll and Niki Lang

“I wanted to design a [wine bar] where you look around and everyone is drinking wine, there’s a wall of glasses, there’s just wine all over the place—there’s a giant selection that rotates all the time,” Kroll says. “What’s funny is, I did the most ambitious thing I could possibly think about in rotating wine, and our regulars are still waiting for the next theme, still waiting for the next month, when we change about 40 different wines, because they want to keep trying something new, and that’s what I think a wine bar should do … We should keep people engaged with what we’re onto next.”

1336 Ninth St. NW

Primrose

Fritz Hahn: The first time you sit at Primrose’s zinc bar, you might need to be reminded to look at the wine list. The scene is mesmerizing, transporting you to a quirkily hip Parisian bistro with its pressed-tin ceiling above robin’s-egg-blue walls, gleaming hardwood communal tables and lamps swaddled with ostrich feathers.

Primrose is the first restaurant from veteran sommelier Sebastian Zutant — the nattily dressed guy who’s been behind the wine lists at Komi, Proof and the Red Hen — and his wife, Lauren Winter, who’s made a mark on the District with her bar and restaurant designs for Tail Up Goat, Calico and Tiger Fork. Together, they’ve created a wine-focused modern French bistro — “not super rustic, a little updated,” Zutant says — serving classic dishes such as coq au vin and a vegetarian French onion soup, while pouring natural wines — a somewhat ambiguous term that may refer to wines that are organic, use indigenous yeast, remain unfiltered, or a combination of all three — from France and a smaller selection of cocktails.





Zutant, who roams the room as the sommelier, describes the list of 14 wines by the glass as “always shifting. I’ve changed the wines by the glass list five times, and we’ve been open for a month.”

His menu mixes small French producers and some of his own creations produced at Virginia’s Early Mountain Vineyards and sold under the label Lightwell Survey. “I’ve gotten really dedicated to the idea that I can pour stuff no one else can get,” he says. On this list, he’s into the poulsard, a minerally, salty red with an edge from France’s Jura region, and soft, easy-drinking cinsault from Languedoc. You may not recognize the style (or the grapes) right away, but Zutant’s selection — and his enthusiasm — make everything effortlessly approachable.

Primrose is a bar that invites lingering — whether you’re splitting an order of pâté and sipping a few lesser-known wines, or settling in for a full meal. “We just wanted to open this little dreamland and have people get excited about some geeky wines,” Zutant says.

So far, it’s working.

3000 12th St. NE

See also: Tasting at Domaine Dirler-Cadé with Jean Pierre Dirler and Ludevine Dirler-Cadé - Germany-South and Alsace 2017 Tour by ombiasy WineTours

Dio

Alicia Cypress: Stacey Khoury-Diaz, the owner of Dio, which opened last September, says that her childhood in Sonoma, California—as well as coming from an agricultural background rather than being a formally trained sommelier—are what make her natural wine bar unique. “It’s a different approach than formal sommeliers,” she says. “I grew up in wine country, and my exposure to wine wasn’t based on learning [and wasn’t] necessarily a passion; it was just a part of life and ingrained into everything we did. It was our economy, it was our culture, it was our social life.”







Located in D.C.’s H Street NE corridor, Dio draws on the neighborhood’s large millennial population. In the few years it took Khoury-Diaz to open the bar, she says she saw a “complete 180” in how the community and industry viewed the natural wines she was advocating for and making the focus of her bar.

“When I first met with distributors before Dio was open … there was a lot of reservation, a lot of hesitation from people in the industry,” Khoury-Diaz says. “[They asked,] ‘Can you really develop a full program around just this kind of wine?’ … There’s definitely been a change in the way they’re selling natural wines and the way they speak about them, and they see a lot more promise than they did before.”

904 H St. NE

See also:
Winemaker Dinner with David Reynaud, Domaine les Bruyeres, Crozes-Hermitage in the Rhone Valley, at Chef Bart Vandaele's BToo in Washington DC, USA/ France
Organic, Sustainable, Biodynamic, Natural Wines … A Primer for “Green” Wines

Little Pearl

Fritz Hahn: Little Pearl, from the team behind the Michelin-starred Pineapple and Pearls and Rose’s Luxury, is two businesses in one. Stop into the converted carriage house at the Hill Center between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and you’ll be greeted with breakfast wraps, gluten-free cinnamon toast and caffeinated beverages. But return after 5:30 p.m., and the lights are lower and the music is funkier. The focus is now on two dozen wines by the glass and a short, snacky menu that features a savory okonomiyaki spring roll — the traditional Japanese pancake that’s rolled and sliced like maki — and a rich, moreish smoked onion dip with crackling house-fried potato chips.






The wine list is less funky than some others, with familiar styles and regions, but even so, it’s embracing the natural movement: That flinty cabernet franc from the Loire? Organic and unfiltered with vineyard yeast. The cabernet sauvignon/syrah blend from Napa is organic and sustainable, even if the menu doesn’t boast about it. (Also winning points, and making this prime territory for a baby shower: two non-alcoholic sparkling “wines” from Germany’s Jörg Geiger.) If you’re anticipating a nice tax break — or celebrating a special night out — go right for the menu’s “Special Moments” section. It sounds like a line from Kay Jewelers, but it features a handful of special reserve wines, such as a nine-year-old chardonnay from Burgundy ($32).

Your enjoyment may depend on where you sit: The solarium-style dining room, with its glass walls and ceiling, becomes clatteringly loud when full on weekends, while the seven-seat coffee counter-turned-bar at the front is more laid-back and comfortable.

921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Sun + Mon closed

Anxo

Inspired by the pintxo bars of San Sebastian, the lively main level of the Truxton Circle location is perfect for walk-in guests during all operating hours. Bite-sized snacks called pintxos (PEEN-CHOs) are offered as the perfect compliment to the most extensive cider list in the world. No reservations required; full menu is available.

Forty-nine seats upstairs are reserved for dining guests, including the nine-seat service bar. Walk-ins are accommodated when possible but reservations are recommended on busy nights and can be made up to three weeks in advance.

Zagat:  At this innovative Basque cider house in Truxton Circle NW, a dizzying array of artisan ciders (some fermented on-site) are served by the glass and the bottle, accompanied by Spanish pintxos, cured meats and steak and seafood dishes. The handsome rustic-industrial setting is dominated by a huge wooden cask, and enhanced with blue-patterned walls, weathered brick and wood detailing.

300 Florida Ave. NW

See also: Cider in the World and Apple Wine in Frankfurt am Main, Germany




Schiller’s Favorites

Here is a complete list of Schiller's Favorites:

Europe

Germany

Schiller's Favorite Wine Taverns in Meersburg, Lake Constance, Baden, Germany
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Frankfurt, Germany
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Würzburg, Franken, Germany
Schiller’s Favorites: 2 Legendary Wine Taverns in Würzburg – Juliusspital and Bürgerspital
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars and Wine Taverns in Freiburg, Baden, Germany
Schiller's Favorites: Frankfurt Apple Wine Taverns that Make their own Apple Wine
Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in Sachsen (Saxony), Germany
Schiller’s Favorite Winemakers in the Saale-Unstrut Region, Germany
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Trier, Germany
Schiller's Favorite (Wine-) Restaurants in Deidesheim in the Pfalz, Germany
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Frankfurt am Main, 2014, Germany
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Berlin, Germany
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Frankfurt am Main, 2013, Germany
Schiller's Favorite Apple Wine Taverns in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Mainz, Germany

France

Schiller's Favorite Seafood Restaurants in Arcachon and Cap Ferret (Bassin d'Arcachon/ Bordeaux)
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in St. Emilion, France - An Update
Schiller’s Favorite Seafood Places in Bordeaux City, France - An Update
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux City - An Update
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars and other Wine Venues in Chablis, France
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Beaune, Bourgogne
Dinner at a Bouchon - Chez Paul - in Lyon: Schiller’s Favorite Bouchons in Lyon, France
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Beaune, Bourgogne, France (2015)
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux City, France (2015)
Schiller’s Favorite Restaurants, Brasseries, Bistros, Cafes and Wine Bars in Paris, France
Schiller's Favorite Seafood Places in Bordeaux City, France
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux City, France, 2014
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in St. Emilion, France
Schiller’s Favorite Restaurants, Brasseries, Bistros, Cafes and Wine Bars in Paris, 2012 France
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Bordeaux (City) (2012), France

UK, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Italy

Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Venice, Italy
Schiller's Favorite Winebars in London, UK
Schiller’s Favorite Tapas Bars in Logroño in La Rioja, Spain
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in London, 2012, UK
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars and Other Wine Spots in Vienna, Austria
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Budapest, Hungary
Schiller’s Favorite Spots to Drink Wine in Vienna, Austria (2011)

USA

Schiller's Favorites: New Wine Bars in Washington DC, USA
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Washington DC, USA (2017)
Schiller's Favorite (Seafood) Restaurants in Rehoboth, Delaware, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in New York City, USA 
Schiller's Favorite Oyster Bars and Seafood Places in Seattle, Washington State, USA - An Update
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Seattle, USA - An Update
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Austin, Texas, USA
Riesling Crawl in New York City – Or, Where to Buy German Wine in Manhattan: Schiller's Favorite Wine Stores, USA
Schiller's Favorite Oyster Bars and Seafood Places in Seattle, USA (2013)
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in New York City, USA (2013)
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Seattle, USA (2013)
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Washington DC, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Crab Houses in the Washington DC Region, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in New York City, 2012, USA
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Charleston, South Carolina, USA (2013)
Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in San Francisco, USA
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars and Other Places Where You Can Have a Glass of Wine in Healdsburg, California

Asia

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Bars in Singapore
Schiller s Favorite Winebars in Beijing, 2014, China

Africa

Schiller's Favorite Restaurants in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa
Schiller's Favorite Wines of Madagascar
Schiller’s 12 Favorite Restaurants of Antananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Upcoming Tours/ Wine Dinners/ Tastings - Annette and Christian Schiller/ ombiasyPR & WineTours/ schiller-wine, Germany, France, USA (Issued: April 2, 2018)

Winemaker Dinner with David Reynaud, Domaine les Bruyeres, Crozes-Hermitage in the Rhone Valley, at Chef Bart Vandaele's BToo in Washington DC, USA/ France

Jean-Luc Colombo, Cornas, Rhône Valley, Presented his Portfolio at the French Embassy in Washington DC, USA

Germany meets France: Bourgogne, Baden, Alsace and Pfalz - Tasting with the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter), led by Annette Schiller, USA/ France/ Germany

Jean-Michel Guillon from Gevry-Chambertin in Washington DC: Winemaker Dinner at 2941 Restaurant with Chef Bertrand Chemel

Ombiasy Wine Tours 2018: 3 x France and 3 x Germany - Ombiasy Newsletter December 2017

Germany-South and Alsace 2017 Tour by ombiasy WineTours: Baden, Alsace, Pfalz and Rheinhessen

Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History

Annual Riesling Party at the Schiller Residence in Washington DC, USA (2017)

Tasting the Best of Virginia Wines in Frankfurt, Germany, with Stuart Pigott: Virginia Governor's Cup Case 2016

Tasting at Domaine Dirler-Cadé with Jean Pierre Dirler and Ludevine Dirler-Cadé - Germany-South and Alsace 2017 Tour by ombiasy WineTours

Organic, Sustainable, Biodynamic, Natural Wines … A Primer for “Green” Wines

Cider in the World and Apple Wine in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Washington DC, USA (2017)

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